Thursday, October 13, 2005
Get well, Gumbo.Gumbo is one of our Hurricane Katrina refugees. RL showed a picture of Gumbo earlier in the blog. His picture, to me, captures the animals who arrived: scared, but becoming less wary, thinking this, just maybe, might not be a bad stay.
Gumbo is a very sweet dog; he is one of the nicest, more cheerful dogs we received from New Orleans. He is a pit bull mix. Some people might say that the last thing the Bay Area needs is more pit bulls, but a pit bull like Gumbo is a joy to be around. We could sure use a lot more dogs like him. He is a social friendly dog, just like a good pit bull should be.
What we didn't know when we admitted this happy, healthy-looking dog, was that we would be facing one of the greatest medical challenges of all our refugees.
Gumbo has tested positive for an unusual infection called babesiosis. This is
an infection that is caused by ticks infested with Babesia, and not common at all in the Bay Area. It corrupts the red blood cells.
It is very serious in that without treatment it can be fatal, and even with treatment, the dog could remain ill. Babesiosis can be transmitted from dog to dog by insect bite and cannot be cured, only mitigated with treatment. Therefore, even if he survives, care will need to be taken for him to not infect other dogs.
He is doing much better, and receiving regular injections to treat his condition. In fact, his foster parent, Tom, brought him in for treatment today. But Gumbo's prognosis is not good. He may not survive, and even if he does, if he is not reclaimed by his original owners, he may not make a good candidate for adoption. The disease is expensive to treat and it is a lot to ask of an adopter:
"Good luck with your new dog, I know those monthly medications are costly, and by the way, he might not live long."
We will know more soon, but unlike some of the other animals, who are in a good shape, and if not claimed, will be easily adopted, Gumbo may be our one very sad story of all the Katrina pets. I don't normally like to share sad information about dogs not yet available for adoption, but with the Hurricane animals, it feels like we are all in this together, and those who support us should know these things.
Treating sick animals, who haven't done anything wrong, but who may die or need to be euthanized, is easily the most difficult part of our job at the East Bay SPCA. The staff that takes on this difficult role, RL & ND, get my utmost respect for the care and compassion they exhibit in this difficult process, as do all the staff members who attend during those procedures. We all feel the pain of an animal that doesn't make it, but they feel it a little more deeply...
We hope that Gumbo continues to do well, and even better, that he has a family already in love with him, who is hoping to get him back.
Even if he is a little broken.